NEW YORK, Oct. 26 /PRNewswire/ -- Attorneys who were the subject of a false and misleading New York Post Article on October 17, 2010 have slammed the tabloid for printing information its reporter knew to be false and for failing, when provided with a letter to the Editor from the Court-appointed Legal Ethics Professor outlining the true facts, to print that letter in its entirety. Post Reporter Susan Edelman's article "Ground Zero Lawyers Use Carrot and $ticks" was published despite Edelman's telephone discussion two days earlier with Lead Attorney Paul J. Napoli who advised Edelman that the facts in her then-proposed article were false. The article was nonetheless published without reference to Napoli's correction of the intentionally misleading and false information, primary among them the fact that the Court-Appointed Legal Ethics Professor Roy Simon had been present from the beginning until the end of the subject meeting with one of the law firm's Ground Zero litigation clients.
The article wrongly suggested that settlement offers provided to 9/11 plaintiffs could be manipulated by the plaintiffs' attorneys and that if a client simply held out for a better deal, the attorneys could increase his offer by a significant amount of money. The Amended Settlement Process Agreement between the City, its contractors and the plaintiffs does not provide for such manipulation, however, as all settlements are based on objective standards and a point system that is determined by a plaintiff's medical records and diagnostic testing results.
In response to the Post article, the Court-Appointed Legal Ethicist wrote a Letter to the Editor that was submitted to the NY Post to correct the misstated facts and to advise that he had been present at the client meeting outlined in the article. On October 25, 2010, however, the Post printed only a small portion of that letter that glaringly omitted the fact that Professor Simon was present throughout the client meeting.
Professor Simon's letter to the Editor is reprinted here in its entirety:
Letter to the Editor
I am the Court-Appointed Legal Ethics Expert in the World Trade Center first responder litigation pending before Judge Hellerstein. I am writing to correct errors in an article by Susan Edelman in Sunday's Post ("Ground Zero lawyers use carrot and $ticks"). The article mentions only one responder, Thomas Gilmartin. As it happens, I was present for the entire meeting between Mr. Gilmartin and his lawyers that is discussed in the Post article.
I cannot discuss the specifics of Mr. Gilmartin's case because his communications with his lawyers are protected by the attorney-client privilege. However, I can state without hesitation that the lawyers Worby Groner Edelman & Napoli Bern are not playing "let's make a deal" by offering more in settlement to entice clients to accept. On the contrary, the lawyers are making it clear to clients that the point formula is based on medical records and other objective factors, and that the Allocation Neutral, not the plaintiffs' lawyers, will decide on the ultimate amount of any award.
At the same time, the plaintiffs' attorneys are exploring all possible options for maximizing client recoveries within the rigid formula set out in the 104-page settlement proposal, and the attorneys are working constantly to obtain additional compensation from other sources (Workers' Compensation, the Port Authority settlement, and potentially the Zadroga Bill.) For example, clients who are declared disabled by the Workers' Compensation Board or by an employer or former employer before the November 8th opt-in deadline may obtain substantially higher recoveries under the settlement because they will become eligible for additional money from the Permanent Disability Fund.
Also contrary to the Post story, the attorneys are not "pressuring" clients to accept the settlement. The attorneys are bluntly laying out the costs and benefits of opting in to the proposed settlement versus continuing to litigate. Some clients may feel pressured when they hear these realities because, as both Judge Hellerstein and Kenneth Feinberg have stated publicly, the risks of continuing to litigate are enormous.
The attorneys have made clear to the plaintiffs that whether to opt in or reject the settlement is the client's decision alone, and if clients decide to keep litigating, the law firm promises to continue to fight hard for them. However, the lawyers will not increase a settlement offer simply because someone holds out for a higher offer. They are not playing carrot and stick and are not making deals.
Roy D. Simon, Jr.
Howard Lichtenstein Distinguished Professor of Legal Ethics
Hofstra University School of Law
Hempstead, New York
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SOURCE Worby Groner Edelman & Napoli Bern, LLP